The Role of Periodontopathogens and Oral Microbiome in the Progression of Oral Cancer. A Review

Julián F. Beltran1, SM Viafara-Garcia2, 3, 4, Alberto P. Labrador5, *, Johan Basterrechea6
1 Department of Odontopediatric, School of Dentistry, UNICOC University Colegio Odontologico, Bogota, Colombia
2 Unit of Basic Oral Investigation, Faculty of Dentistry (UIBO), Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá, Colombia
3 Cellular and Molecular Immunology Group, Faculty of Dentistry (INMUBO), Universidad El Bosque, Bogotá, Colombia
4 Centro de Investigación e Innovación Biomédica (CIIB), Universidad de los Andes, Santiago, Chile
5 Department of Oral Surgery and oral Pathology, Centro de Odontología Integral (COI) Acarigua-Portuguesa, Venezuela
6 Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Bordent Dental Clinic, Chia, Colombia

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© 2021 Beltran et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Centro de Odontologia Integral (COI) Acarigua-Portuguesa, Venezuela, Av 5 de Diciembre C.C Metropolitano local 6 zip code 3301, Acarigua-Portuguesa, Venezuela;


Chronic periodontal disease and oral bacteria dysbiosis can lead to the accumulation of genetic mutations that eventually stimulate Oral Squamous Cell Cancer (OSCC). The annual incidence of OSCC is increasing significantly, and almost half of the cases are diagnosed in an advanced stage. Worldwide there are more than 380,000 new cases diagnosed every year, and a topic of extensive research in the last few years is the alteration of oral bacteria, their compositional changes and microbiome. This review aims to establish the relationship between bacterial dysbiosis and OSCC. Several bacteria implicated in periodontal disease, including Fusobacterium nucleatum, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Prevotella intermedia, and some Streptococcus species, promote angiogenesis, cell proliferation, and alteration in the host defense process; these same bacteria have been present in different stages of OSCC. Our review showed that genes involved in bacterial chemotaxis, the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) of the cell wall membrane of gram negatives bacteria, were significantly increased in patients with OSCC. Additionally, some bacterial diversity, particularly with Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria species, has been identified in pre-cancerous stage samples. This review suggests the importance of an early diagnosis and more comprehensive periodontal therapy for patients by the dental care professional.

Keywords: Oral bacteria, Oral cancer, Chronic periodontitis, Oral microbiome, Oral dysbiosis, Anaerobic bacteria.